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The economic impact for women in states where abortion rights will be restricted or banned is going to be severe

Juliana Kaplan,Madison Hoff   

The economic impact for women in states where abortion rights will be restricted or banned is going to be severe
  • The Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade will have a negative economic effect on women and employers.
  • People in states with abortion bans may have to take a flight to get access to abortion services.

For almost 50 years, Americans had the constitutional right to an abortion. That ended on June 24, when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade.

There are 13 states with so-called "trigger laws" that will quickly ban — or at least severely restrict — abortions.

States with abortion bans or restrictions, as well as those that are likely to ban abortion in the near future, tend to have fewer economic protections for working women than other states, making a harsher burden on people seeking abortions. With these bans, women in these states may also lose out on earnings now that they may have to travel far to get abortion access, C. Nicole Mason, president and CEO of the Institute for Women's Policy Research, previously told Insider.

Some of the trigger-law states, like Missouri and South Dakota, imposed bans right after the Supreme Court decision. At least seven seven states so far have banned abortion, according to reporting from The New York Times. Louisiana is one of the trigger-law states where law took effect following the ruling, but was temporarily blocked by a judge. Utah, another trigger-law state, also has its abortion ban temporarily blocked.

Other states already had limits on abortions in place prior to the Supreme Court's ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, or are likely to put in place bans now that the ruling is final. According to Guttmacher Institute research before the ruling, there are 26 states that "are certain or likely to ban abortion."

Those states also tend to pay their workers less than states with legally-enshrined abortion access, have fewer union protections, and have higher rates of incarceration, according to an analysis from the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute in May.

"We know from previous economic research that people who are already facing economic insecurity or types of economic marginalization or disadvantage are hit the hardest by lack of bodily autonomy," Kate Bahn, the director of labor market policy and chief economist at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, told Insider.

Mason previously told Insider that women "who are already economically vulnerable" will be "most impacted" by abortion bans. This includes "women of color, hourly wage workers, workers without paid sick leave or time off," Mason added.

Abortion restrictions have "disproportionate and unequal impact" on "people who are already marginalized and oppressed," according to Herminia Palacio, president and CEO of Guttmacher Institute. That includes "Black and Brown communities, other people of color, people with low incomes, young people, LGBTQ communities, immigrants and people with disabilities."

In states with restrictions or outright bans, women will have to travel to get access to abortion services. Flights, hotels, and other expenses together will mean it can get expensive to have an abortion. Some employers have said they will cover travel expenses or offer travel reimbursements.

"The lack of access to the full range of reproductive health care services in the states, including abortion care, will have a devastating effect on women's short-and-long-term earnings and income, job security and career advancement, and increase the likelihood they will become impoverished," Mason said in a statement after Friday's ruling.

Women were already making less in states with trigger laws, and that won't change

As seen in the above map, most of the states where abortion may be restricted or banned, or where this is already the case, are in the South or Midwest.

Across the 26 states with trigger laws, abortion limits, or that are likely to enact restrictions that EPI analyzed, the minimum wage is an average of $8.39. In the 24 states where people have access to abortion, the average minimum wage is $11.48. Ten of the abortion-limited states haven't expanded Medicaid, according to EPI, potentially cutting workers off — or pricing them out — of healthcare.

In states with Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers laws (TRAP laws), which impose additional regulations on abortion providers, often in an effort to shut them down, women are 7.6% less likely to transition into higher-paying jobs, according to a journal article for "Feminist Economics," by Bahn, Adriana Kugler, Melissa Holly Mahoney, and Annie McGrew.

That impact will still be felt disproportionately harder by women of color; in states with TRAP laws, Black women are 5 to 11% less likely to complete college, and their future income dips by 3 to 6%, according to research from Kelly Jones and Mayra Pineda-Torres.

The Turnaway Study, a landmark study of 1,000 women who sought out abortions, found that women who wanted an abortion but weren't able to receive one saw higher levels of poverty than peers who had the procedure. They were also more likely to fall into debt and not be able to cover basic living expenses.

Women in trigger states already have fewer labor protections, and companies there may find it hard to recruit and hire

Bahn warned that a new post-Roe patchwork of widely varying abortion access between states could lead to "women just performing better because the state they happen to live in, or women just performing better in the economy, because the employer they happen to work for provides some days off to get access to abortion care because that would just exacerbate the inequality we already see."

Twenty-four of the 26 abortion-limiting states have "right to work" laws, which labor advocates say weaken collective bargaining power. The laws bar unions from requiring employees in a unionized workplace to be part of the union and pay dues, even though they can still economically benefit from the union's contract and protections.

Bahn directly linked limits on abortion access to limits on workers' ability to organize. "This is another example of taking away security in someone's outside conditions in a way that will then reduce their ability to exercise their power on the job."

The Supreme Court's ruling also may mean employers in trigger-law states may lose top talent, dealing another economic blow to those states. It may also be hard to recruit women job seekers to states with abortion bans or restrictions.

Women might also just drop out of the workforce — especially if they end up having children they didn't plan — or have to forego taking risks to pursue another better or higher-paying job.

"Women are really important to the economy, if people didn't know that already, and you're taking women and you're hobbling them," Bahn said.


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